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tv   Today  NBC  September 23, 2012 8:00am-9:00am EDT

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welcome to "this week in defense news." i'm vago muradian. general mark welsh took command as the 20th chief of staff of the united states air force. faced with decisions and a mission to reenergize the service that's been at war for more than 20 years and shrinking for the past decade as the equipment has aged. the top priority is a resolve a bitter dispute with congress over proposed cuts to the air national guard. lawmakers are blocking $9 billion this cuts from the services proposed budget. general welsh joins us now as the air force association's air and space conference here at the gay lord convention center in maryland, just south of washington, d.c.. thanks for taking time our your
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schedule to be with us. >> thank you vago. >> and there's very little that you can do to prepare for it in many respects aside from that it's 9.4% pretty much across everything. but there are things that can be cut and there are things that can't be cut. what are the things -- or areas that you're most concerned about in a sequestration environment? >> vago, the biggest concern i have is that the trade space will eventually come down to modernization or readiness. terrible trade space for the military to be operating in. that's the biggest concern. >> are there any particular pieces for example, isr, fighter force, you know if you were going to get more granular, what are some of the specific areas you would sail well you know here and here and here? nuclear enterprise, what have you? >> on the training side i'm most worried about the flying training program. with simulator time. because of the other cuts
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involved in sequestration we won't be able to upgrade the simulators with live kind of capability that will let us do the training to offset the loss of flying hours. we lose on both counts. the operational world, the isr fleet is what's most in demand for us right now besides the mobility fleet. and the isr funding will be the one that's most important to maintain to support our combat and command requirements. >> what are the top two things you have to get done in the first six months on the job and what are this things that you need to get done over your four year tenure? >> first thing, start to work on a trust issue at least a perceived trust issue with congress. i had a number of interviews prior to to my confirmation hearing and some more afterwards with members of the senate armed services committee and other members of the senate. each one of them mentioned that they were concerned about this lack of trust, poor communication and lack of transparency with the department of defense and the air force. but they specifically mentioned the air force.
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clearly that's something that secretary don lee and i have to address. second thing is, the other issue that every one of them mentioned and that's the active reserve component mix within the air force. the process that led us to submit the '13 budget that arrived on the hill and then basically ran into a brick wall didn't go well. i believe all the people involved are good people. nobody was trying to do this with evil intent. however, the process obviously did not work well for us. and we are in a place right now that just does not work. we have to move from where we are today and then spend some time figuring out the right answer for the long-term as far as communication and coordination and communication between the guard bureau, the air national guard, the governors, the tags, the u.s. air force, the department of defense, and the congress. >> what about priorities over the -- over the rest of your tenure? more strategically? >> transition to a peacetime air force is major concern of mine. i think as we draw down in
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afghanistan, the air force will probably remain a little longer. maybe than some of the other services will just to support the activity on the ground. isr, command and control. quick response capabilities to response troops in contact if that should be a problem and help provide the security we'll stay in the country a longer longer than other portions will. but the transition will be interesting because we haven't been one for 20 years and our people aren't sure how to act in that environment. 90% of them haven't known anything but deployments to the middle east and this is going to be a change for us. it will be is very interesting transition period i think and it's complicated by the need to modernize. our fleet is aging fairly dramatically. there's no secret about that. we've taken great care of it. it's still getting the job done. but it can't continue forever. we have got to figure out a way to modernize the air force. >> let me take to you this spat with congress though. there's $9 billion in cuts that
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are being withheld. how will you resolve that issue? come at the cost of pulling guard cuts off the table? cutting more active duty people and what are the ramifications operationally for that if it happens? >> i wish i could answer every part of that question, i'm not sure, but the first thing we have to do is we have gotten some of this discussion off the table. there's an agreement reached on some items in the best interest of everyone to move forward with. those things have already been done. the hill has been part of that discussion and agreed we can move forward. there are others remaining that we have not been able to move. the first step is for the air guard and the air active duty air force to walk toward each other. not away from each other. and see if there's anything we can do as far as proposal that we can offer to osd and then to the hill for resolving some of the disconnect. let's get as much off the table as we can and then figure out where the real hard kernel of discontent is and then attack that last. >> you feel it's soluble and
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you won't have to pull $9 billion elsewhere out of the budget -- >> vago, i don't know what's solveable. i'll be honest with you. it depends on how far we can move forward in the next couple of months before the end of the continuing resolution to offer the alternative that's viable. the problem we have is that at this point is that we're someplace we can't stay. the only way to move forward successfully is together but there's a lot of players in this now. there's 54 guard units, there's a number of governors involved. we just have to work this hard. >> let me go to a transition that the entire u.s. military is making. united states forces are off iraq. going to be -- out of iraq, going to be out of afghanistan at least the plan is by 2014. it's been is very permissive environment whether for combat or intelligence or surveillance or reconnaissance aircraft. yet at the same time it's going to be important to maintain
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some counterinsurgency capabilities. what's the balance to do the stuff you used to do as a pilot early in your career as well as the other stuff that's going to be much more heavily defended? >> i think air force special operations command has done a great job over the last few years improving the capability and inn creasing the -- increasing the capacity and it has the ability to stay in a fight when required. they do a great job today supporting fueled forces whether from u.s. special operations command or from combat and command. they're heavily engaged and they do fantastic work. i'm very comfortable with the percentage of work they're doing. on the more high end warfare side of the house, this is a major problem. we have built an entire collection of isr capacity useful only in a permissive environment. for -- it's losable in a permissive environment. we can use it but it's a great risk. that clearly won't work in a high threat environment in a scenario you can imagine some other parts of the ward. we have to -- world.
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we have to figure out as we draw out of afghanistan, either close down the capability and put it in shrink wrap and transition this huge work force to operate other systems and other cape -b89s that can be used in a bigger environment. >> more with air force chief of staff general mark welsh in just a moment. you're watching "this week in defense news."
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we're back with general mark welsh, the air force chief of staff. sir, the -- you, your
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predecessors, your predecessor's predecessors all say everything is on the table and teen strongest supporters of the three policemans say -- programs say that given the modernization and space, nuclear modernization, the whole nine yards. it makes those programs even unaffordable under the current budget scheme. is there any one of three that could be given away? >> i hope not vago. all three of the things are currently in our bunt structure. if the costs are controlled and bemaintain the costs -- we maintain the costs we currently have projected the cost shouldn't be a major issue for those unless something changes again if it could. if -- which it could. if it does the entire game changes and then i think we have to be very realistic about the operational priorities and i think that as we looked at this, we have a couple of
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options. cancel the program or downsize programs. either of which has significant second and third order effects. this is going to take some serious thought and not just within the air force programs. as we look more and more at the pa sick when you talk about the range, the payload, the high altitude sensory requirements, these are all things that the air force is at the heart of the effort for. and so i hope that we're not going to look at every service and just take x. per acceptability from each of us and -- percent from each of us. if we are going to do it we need to look at what's of most benefit to the nation and the modernization room. >> do we need though in the construct of doing this to start to look fundamentally differently at eliminating redundancies? if we're on the track to just keep cutting it's not going to work without a major change is it? >> have guy, i would agree with you. -- vago. i would agree with you. we're going to have to be willing to look at a different model. even across the service lines, if we have multiple services
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that invest heavily in one airborne area for example, that probably doesn't make much sense for the future if we're tarting to compete for -- starting to compete for resources in the department. if we have a service that does more of the close air support or short range strike or does more of the long-range isr or the long-range strike or a service that does more of the air refueling we should prioritize that service's funneling for those areas. and my view. so we don't duplicate the efforts. >> let me take you to the joint strike fighter which is -- which is obviously a critical program to modernize the air force, the navy and marine corps as well as allied tactical fighter fleets. the aircraft is performing well in flight tests but there's an affordability questions. both for purchasing and for flying it. you yourself said it doesn't matter if it's an affordable airplane if it's unaffordable to fly. fundamentally what needs to happen to get the costs under control and if you can't get the costs under control to you need to start looking at a plan b. and if so when? >> i hope the costs are coming under control.
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the problem now is we don't have to data to show that. we haven't been operating the airplane long enough to have actual versus projected costs. the actual cost per flying hour is different. it's here for the -- 35 and it's here for the f-16 for example which is a common comparison that both the company and the government news. there are things in this number that are not included in this number. >> much more inclusive cost is the answer. >> it is. and so the -- the company -- >> more true cost as they would say. >> could be. yeah. the company is now saying well, there are -- if we remove those things the costs are going to be very much more comparable. i don't know if that's true or not. i have no reason to disbelieve them. but what we have done is taken their figures, taken their breathing and handed it to the program office and asked them to get with the company and let's compare those two because it shouldn't be hard to tell if we're close in number versus very far apart in number. this is critical that we understand this because we have
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to operate this in a major way. 763 aircraft times the number of flying hours per year is lot of money. >> it is. air sea battle concept was developed in order to foster greater cooperation between the air force and the navy. for any access replaces that are heavily defended to be able to operate within those areas. that -- didn't have in the 2013 budget's mission much of a concept because the concept in the office was new. in 2014 what sort of impact should we expect to see shaped by air sea battle and your investment plan? >> vago, an opinion on this because i'm late to this discussion. i have not had an extended discussion yet with the cno. although we have talked briefly about that. i believe that the next step in 2014 will be to figure out those areas where we can train together, where we can demonstrate capability that is mutually beneficial. for example, how do we extend weapons ranges and how do we
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pass track quality data from dislocated sensors? so the navy can fire if farther distances? how do we look at extending the range of -- of isr platforms? how do we look at sharing data of these extended range platforms in a way that we can't today? i look at air sea battle not as a large complex, a magical undertaking, a lot like air land battle which happened from if mid '70s to the mid '80s which took some years where we started to see capability that was affecting the air force's capability to help the ground. and really 25 years later now we're seeing it on the battlefield in afghanistan. >> are you going to be making investments to help your navy brothers and they're going to be helping you owl? >> i hope so. i don't know. i think this is going to get caught up in the same debate and each service is going to have to decide which is the higher priority for us. my personal view is if it's
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beneficial, i have no problem pushing to get our secretary to invest air force dollars in a program that benefits both the air force and the navy. >> right. >> it's all department of defense money. >> we'll be back with general
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we're back with general mark welsh. the 20th chief of staff of the united states air force. sir, i want to start off. your job is to live 20 years in the future. to make decisions today that meaningfully shape the force of
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the future. what does the air force of the future need to look like? >> it needs to be flexible. it needs to be adaptive. it needs to be responsive. we need to be able to move information quickly. we need to be able to link data between multiple platforms, shooters and sensors. we need to be able to travel long distances. we need to be able to travel at altitudes where we operate relatively freely. above commercial traffic. above lower level threat systems and we need to be able to operate in both contested and uncontested environments. >> again you know you mentioned contested environments. and earlier we mentioned the pivot. let's talk about the asia pivot. what does that mean more broadly? does it mean that there needs to be fundamental cultural changes within the air force? to deal with the theater that's not only vast, it's culturally more complex? it's linguistically more complex and moreover may force you to operate in nonemission kind of environments that are
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totally alien to us? everybody now staffs because they can pick up a phone and it can go through 12 layers of staffing, does there need to be a fundamental cultural shift in the service? >> i don't think so but i clearly they if we're going to focus on the area over time which clearly the nation is we're going to have the change the way we do business. we've had a lot of airmen in the far east for a long time. in in japan and korea in guam, in the past in the philippines and other places. so we've been operating the region before. it's not new. i think the -- the change is that we're going to be using new technology. hopefully in the relatively near future. that will allow us to move into areas of data sharing and information sharing and rapid movement that we just didn't have in the past. and i think that that's going to be the biggest adjustment. the cultural part will also be a large one. because like we did with the afghan, pakistan, hands program in the department of defense, we've never really jumped at the middle east and the orient
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and the language and the cultural skills required to operate there successfully in the same way we did for afghanistan for example. and if we're going to be focused on this for the long- term we need to do that. it's not just training airborne linguists anymore. >> let me take you to the question of budgets, on paper the air force and navy and the army all have sort of an equal budget split. but the air force, a huge portion, a large chunk of the budget, goes for space intelligence and other priority national programs that you don't even touch in the past. and your toa is closer to 19% than it is closer to a third. doesn't that affect doing any form of modernization that you want to do over the strategic long-term? >> it does affect it of course. on the other hand, we've been task to do -- >> i'm sort of sorry i'm right in that case. >> we've been asked to do a lot of the intelligence work. we do manage and 07 rate a lot of -- operate a lot of the space systems that the nation relies on. we're proud of that. now, so i don't really see that as an investment beyond our comb. the problem is it does make the
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modernization of airborne platforms a more difficult problem. although the navy has essentially the same problem with their -- their maritime assets versus their aviation assets. so -- >> they also have a marine corps in there also. >> they do and i thinks this something we just have to work with. >> one criticism that's historically been leveled at the air force is it may have very, very good ideas and it may be performing and doing very, very well. but it almost has an inability to articulate its vision and its ideas and its importance in a whole bunch of other factors. you said that communicating is going to be your top priority. how does the air force tackle this communication challenge without being referred to again as oh, well there goes the air force again trying to grab all the glory. the counteraccusation made anytime. >> i think the first thing we have to do is just admit we have a problem. there is at least i perceive a very clear ambivalence about the air force, not dislike, not -- not concern about -- just an
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ambivalence because people have no idea what we do. they have no idea what's going on above them in the battle space. they don't know how hard it is to maintain superiority in a contested region. how stressed the tanker fleet can be in supporting is contingency. they don't know what's involved in operating fighters in four bases and keeping people and equipment and weapons -- >> it seems the utility. i flip the air force switch and it delivers. >> that's a great come from time to time to the air force but clearly we need to be able to tell the story in a way that's better under. i believe that's any job -- understood. i believe that's my job. i don't think i'm the only one that needs to believe telling it. >> air force seems to have a problem with accountability. obviously the mti issue. but more broadly, does the air force need to get tougher on its leadership? >> i think the air force is tough on its leadership. anecdotally. you heard the information. statistically i don't think it
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bears itself out. we don't air our dirty laundry in public a lot. they don't know. i assure of you that because i have never been tolerant and neither has any commander i've worked for. i'm not sure this is a major issue. if it is i'd love to find out where and we'll fix it. >> sir, thank you very much
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when general mark welsh became air force chief of staff last month, he inherited the usual budget and personnel challenges and a more immediate problem to resolve. congress blocked $9 billion in cuts to protest reductions to the air national guard jeopardizing the fiscal plan as a new round of automatic cuts loomed. lawmakers were angered by the services rationale which didn't hold water they said. welsh says they failed to clearly quickly and candidly communicate its ideas, priorities and motives. he's right. the air force has long fallen short. instead it sometimes accused of manipulating facts and analysis as in the case of the guard cuts simply to sell its agenda. welsh is moving quickly to reset relationships in the
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pentagon on the hill and with airmen. he understands communication is the key to leadership and is rousing speech here at the air force association's annual gathering on the service's 65th birthday was a big hit with airmen. to itself, the joint team and the nation the obligation for better strategies, new approaches, more resources or to explain missteps as the military transitions to a peacetime force in an era of fiscal constraints but challenges. welsh's challenge is to convince his force at all levels to follow his lead. thanks for joining us for "this week in defense news." i'm vago muradian. and a very special thanks to air force headquarters, the air force association and the gay lord national hotel and conference center for helping make this show possible. i'll be back next week at the same time. until then, have a great week. [ captions by: caption colorado, llc 800-775-7838 email: ] alright everybody, get your heads up.
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so standing american science in the age of face cal austerity. i'm -- fiscal austerity. i'm steve usdin, welcome to "biocentury this week". posterity is putting american biomedical science at risk. funding hasn't always been a struggle. bipartisan enthusiasm for bioscience led congress to double n.i.h.'s budget from 1998 to 2003. a bigger budget now more than $30 billion stimulated universities to ramp up ph.d. programs and use generous overhead payments from n.i.h. grants to fund labs and bulk up administrative staffs. but the budget has been almost flat since then. accounting for inflation, n.i.h.'s spending powers actually declined about 15%
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since 2003. more scientists means more demands are be placed on limited resources. n.i.h. accepted only 17% of applications in fiscal 2012 making it the hardest year ever to get a grant. if congress and the white house can't find a solution to budget sequestration, n.i.h. could lose even more, $2.5 billion next year and the cutbacks could continue for a decade. but scientists can't expect a blank check. they need to justify and account for taxpayer money. arguably n.i.h. doesn't spend as much as it should on risky cutting edge science and there's fat that could be trimmed from its budget. biocentury laid out proposals for reforming biomedical science funding in its 20th annual back-to-school essay. now biocentury this week discuss science and innovation in the age of fiscal austerity we're joined by the nation's top scientist dr. collins, director of the national institutes of health. dr. collins one way to look at science today is that it's a
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ale of two cities -- tale of two cities the best of times and the worst of times. behind the scenes there's a kind of struggle for funding and for -- for grants. how do you see it? >> totally that way. i mean it is a truly paradoxical moment in medical research. i've been involved in this enterprise now for 30 years and the pace of discovery is accelerating at really a remarkable pace and it allows us to make things possible that we wouldn't have dreamed of a decade ago. and to see those discoveries pouring out of laboratories, all the way from basic applications in this kind of dizzying pace is truly gratifying. at the same time, neither i for anybody else who's been around for a long time in biomedical research can remember a time where the enterprise felt under such stress in terms of whether the resources will be there to allow these discoveries to continue to happen.
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it is a very paradoxical time. >> and i want to talk about those stresses and maybe what can be done about them. and you know, the obvious answer is to say well there should be more money for science -- >> that is an answer. >> for the moment i'd like to take it off the table just because it's not likely in the foreseeable future i think we're going to see huge increases or substantial increases in the budget. taking that off the table. what are this things the responses, that you at nih, the congress that we as a society can take to make sure we're getting as much progress as we need to, as we can for the $30 billion a year that's put into nih? >> we've already been applying the approaches, we've had to while the nih budget over the course of the last ten years has crept ever so slightly upward in terms of dollars. inflation habiting away at it. and -- has been eating away at it. right now we have 20% less buying power than we did in 2003 in terms of doing
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biomedical research. that means we can't afford to miss out on efforts to build collaborations to make the science go quicker. and sometimes with less expense. a lot of what i do as the director of the nih is to try to identify ways in which we can make great science happen but to do so in a fashion that's even more efficient. and that means partnering with other organizations and we do a lot of that. we work internationally now. i meet every six months with the heads of international research organizations where we figure out what are the things we can do together whether it's the trust or the ukmrc or japan or china. we look for ways to partner with industry. and we're doing a lot more of that now than five or six years ago because we need each other more than ever. industries also in a squeeze financially. so we try to make the best of a different situation. and maybe in a certain way, the financial stresses are encouraging some new kind of
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innovative approaches to that but there's no magic here. only so many levers we have to pull. we're trying to judge which of those would make the most sense to keep the enterprise going but there's no question, the community is feeling the stress. >> and some of the kind of biomarkers of that stress i want to mention them and see what your responses are and if they're things -- ideas you have for how to deal with them. the average age that a person gets a first nih grant in other words, can do independent research is 42. >> uh-huh. >> nobody would ever start a biotech company or a computer company and say we're not going to have anybody here that's -- unless they're over 40. i mean -- what can you do about that? >> this is a very troubling situation. and it's a consequence of the limitation in terms of funds available for independent investigators to get their labs started and universities feeling that squeeze have not created new positions at the level they were for a while. and that means that people end up in training positions for
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long periods of time. waiting for the moment where they have their own chance to become independent. i don't think that's healthy. one program we just started this year, last year, to try to speed up the opportunity for talented individuals to have independence is what i would call the skip the post doc program because now people often times stay in these postdoctoral fellowships for a long period of time. a few of them are ready after they've got the degree. this early independence awaited is a new opportunity for the most well positioned independent creative young signists to get that -- scientists to get that chance, not avenue seven years but right away right after they get their degree. >> that's going to affect a handful of people every year. >> initially, starting out small. >> the more radical ideas proposed to change the demographics more dramatically. one just limit the amount of time that people can be on the postdoc and you have a sink or
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swim. >> indeed. i'm very concerned about the issue steve in terms of whether the training environment is actually serving the needs of young scientists who have vision and creativity that they want to express. i convened a working group of my advisory committee chaired by shirley tillman at thank you dr. collins, nih has created four new grant categories to fund innovative science. but is it enough to make a difference? here are the numbers.
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we're discussing science, austerity and innovation with dr. francis collins director of the national institute of health. you were talking want work force issues, what are this particular things you can do and also your response to the question about american education and science. there's enthusiasm across the board for stem -- for research for pushing education in science and technology and engineering mathematics and producing more ph.d.s than there are jobs for them. does something have to change? >> well, actually at the moment the unemployment rate for ph.d.s and biological science is very low. let's be clear about that. it's not that there are people out there who can't find jobs, on the other hand when you look and see what ph.d.s in science are doing, less than half of them are actually in university tenure track or tenured positions which is what they thought they were being trained
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for. the work force being put in place looked intensively at the whole question of the work force pipeline. who's being recruited into it and who's coming out of it and where do they ends up? one of the things they commented on is that we don't have great data particularly from people who come to our work force from outside the united states. we don't track those numbers very carefully so we don't really quite know. and we know there are big fluxes happening there as well in terms of individuals who trained at foreign universities, come to the u.s. for some additional training who often times in the past would stay and now frequently are going back because there are more opportunities for them in their home countries whether it's china, india, singapore or whatever. so we need better data. but even with the data that's there it's clear we should be doing a better job with graduate students and postdocs to expose them to additional kinds of career options. and not have everybody imagine that there's really only one acceptable pathway which is to be a clone of your mentor. and right now, that's often the aisn't which means people are
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disappointed if that's not the path they end up on and we talk about alternative careers which sound a little bit like -- >> second class. >> second class, right. we're kind of saying you didn't make it. we have to get rid of that and think about where are the scientific needs in our country for expertise? what's the volume of individuals we need in each of those and how do we organize our training programs to meet the needs so we have both quantity and quality of training, matched up with what the expectations will need to be. and we haven't really done this systematically. it is a big challenges effort but i think we're going to take charge. of that responsibility in a way that nih previously hasn't had to do. >> and want to switch to another topic you know, the 42 age for a -- for principal investigators biomarker, another biomarker of american science is the fact that the success rate for nih research applications is what about 17%? >> that's right. >> that means that more than
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eight out of ten applications don't get funded. what does that mean for science? >> it means we're in a very tough place. over the course of the last 60 years if you look at the success rate as a metric of how individual investigators are doing in terms of their likelihood of doing great science it's fluctuated between 25% and 35%. and that's reasonably healthy although 25% is getting kind of low. 17% is way too low. that means way too much time is being spent by investigators writings, submitting, rewriting and resubmitting and getting frustrated and ultimately just giving up after a certain number of rejections. we are wasting the talent of our work force by this particular circumstance. >> so one proposal -- that people made biocentury made it in our back to school essay is to shift to less expensive like basic research. for example for nih to dial back the amount of clinical research it does and to spend more on basic research.
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>> we have those detates all the times -- debates all the time in terms of that. right now about 53% of the budget goes to basic science and the remainder to applied or clinical research. and certainly many large clinical trials are expensive and people tend to point to those. one of my priorities right now and fits together with both where the science is going and the economic stresses is to figure out how we can do clinical research more effectively and more efficiently. running a clinical trial may be doesn't have to be as complicated and expensive as it has been in the past. we have now the opportunity to begin to mount these efforts in networks that are organized that have electronic health records that you could potentially set up a foundation for doing clinical research where you didn't have to start from scratch each time you started a new trial. so it may be possible to enable a future where clinical trials can be conducted more rapidly with a lower marginal cost for each new trial that you do. we're looking at that avidly.
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as we're looking at the basic science arena too. i mean basic science in many ways has evolved also into a direction where some of the most exciting stuff are big complicated projects. look at n code which is just produced 37 papers describing how the genome functions and a truly dramatic way. that's 440 investigators and 32 laboratories around the globe thank you dr. collins, we'll be right back in a moment but first american biotech success has been built in large part on proximity to nih funded basic science. here's how nih funding compares to major public and private science funders around the world.
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now back to "biocentury this week". we're talking about the future of science and fiscal
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office testerty can dr. francis -- austerity with dr. collins, the role that nih plays in the economy and maybe the division, the appropriate division between nih and industry. what are your thoughts about both of those? >> if you look at the evidence, the investments that are made through nih and biomedical research are incredibly powerful in terms of their economic benefits setting aside the fact this is how we're advancing human health and have done so dramatically over the last few decades. before i leave that. did you realize heart attack deaths are down by more than 60% in the last 40 years? strokes by more than 70%. you can draw a direct line to nih research that made that kind of outcome possible. and i think that's our main reason for existence and the reason we get up in the morning but also if you want to say and it's difficult economic time are we helping with that? the evidence is overwhelming. every dollar that nih invests in the 50 states across the country and you probably already know everybody may not
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be aware who's listening that 85% of our budget goes out there in grants all over the country in every state. and those dollars have an immediate spin-off in terms of goods and services that get generated in the local economy of about 2 and a half field just in the first year. there aren't too many things the government does that have that kind of multiplier effect. >> one of the criticisms of nih or one of the ideas that people have about how it could do better is it is not integrated enough with the companies that are trying to turn scientific discoveries into products, what would be your response to that. >> one of my priorities partnering more effectively with biotech and with industry. the openness to that on both sides is at a high peak right now. i spend a lot of time speaking with heads of r&d and pharma about things that are getting in their way that are actually competitive that nih can play a bigger role in. age example is this effort to
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identify the right targets for the next generation of drug development. we have a whole long list of potential targets that are coming out of genomics but most people aren't quite sure which ones to invest in. like the list is too big. so how do we develop the right filter? working with industry in a series of workshops and now what's increasingly likely to be a collaborative plan we hope to be able to do that more systematically in a way where everiable has access to the information but industry can decide how to place their bets. another example recently developed a program with industry where eight companies have agreed to make available 58 compounds that have already been in humans in clinical trials but which are not currently being pursued because of lack of efficacy or because the company changed their business plan. they are now being made available and crowd sourcing them to academic investigators or investigators in small companies to find new uses for them to repurpose them. and -- pretty dramatic. >> well and one of the things that people in biotech tell me is this is kind of the opposite
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model. they're trying to go for a move from biological insights to design drugs to attack disease and here you're going and you're saying well we have this molecule and we're trying to find a purpose for it and they're quite skeptical. >> let's finds out. they are both right of course but if you have a compound you already invested $100 million in and you know it's safe in humans and what the dose should be and what the kinetics and dynamics are and you can actually discover that works for another disease you've saved yourself a decades of work and a long investment of money. we have good examples of that. it's not like this has never happened. look at azd the first effective drug for hiv/aids. that was developed for cancer and only after the fact when it didn't work for cancer tried and turned out to be very effective in that early stage -- >> you said let's wait and see, what are the metrics for success for a program like that and what are the timelines for when we will see whether it's working or not? >> we think about that a lot.
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we have the new center for advancing translational sciences. the first new component of nih based upon scientific pockets in a long time -- possibilities in a long time. to claim they've made a contribution, it's going to be whether these milestone blockers, these bottlenecks, that have vexed the entire therapeutic development pipeline starts to give way. can we in fact see some success for repurposing? can we in this project we're doing with darpa come up with a way using biochips that's more effective in predictable toxicity than using animals? >> thanks, we're going to have more with dr. francis collins in just a moment.
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we've got a few more minutes for some final thoughts with nih director dr. francis collins, dr. collins some final thoughts? >> well, i think i'm going to challenge the premise of some of our conversation here. namely, that the support for biomedical research in the united states is going to continue to be under severe stress and that there's no light at the end of this tunnel. i think the arguments for the value of this enterprise both in terms of advancing human health and stimulating the economy are extremely compelling. and i would like to believe that those arguments will actually get some purchase in decision making in the coming years. other countries seem to have accepted that. even countries whose economic distress is at least as bad as ours and yet they have seen medical research as an opportunity to actually build things back up into a healthier state and therefore have specifically prioritized this. as an investment they want the
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make. >> why do you think that isn't happening? if you watched the whole republican national convention and watched the whole democratic national convention, there are a few passing references to science and to medical progress but they're not a focus, they're not discussed and they're not being discussed in the -- they're not part -- it's not part of the political debate. why do you think that is? >> i don't think we in america have had that conversation effectively yet. the facts are there. we've begun so focused and understandably so on the difficult fiscal circumstances that our country is facing and the fact that we've gone through a very difficult economic situation for many american families. and the idea of focusing on the way out of this through science and technology, while it gets touched on in various places it hasn't fully sunk into the american consciousness but i'm just enough of an optimist to believe that the case a strong and it is that that's going to happen. and what are we on this program? this is about the biocentury right? steve, that's what we're talking about? we are in the biocentury. we have the chance in the united states to lead as we have done in the past. or the chance to let other
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countries step in and take up our slack and that could result ultimately in our losing out on the economic development and the health benefits. and i don't think america wants that. >> i think there's a certain sense of complacency maybe. people assume that the united states is ahead in all areas of life sciences and that it's irrevocable. you know, what would be your response to that? >> this is not just a given. the fact that america has led has been a consequence of the investments made since world war ii. in this enterprise. and it is something that has happened but it could be lost without the sustaining support of that. what we really need is not feast or fa mean. we need a stable -- famine. we need a stable trajectory at least keeping up with inflation and ideally better than that so a young investigator with a creative surge has the confidence that the enterprise is going to be there to support them. >> well, thanks, that's all the time that we've got this week.
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to see more of my discussion with dr. collins watch the web exclusive online now at and for more in-depth information and analysis about science, download the free back to school report also on i'm steve usdin and i'll see you next week. [ captions by: caption colorado, llc 800-775-7838 email: ]
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